CARLSBAD — The finishing touches are being added and the doors will finally reopen at the Cole Library.
Library and Cultural Arts Director Heather Pizzuto said the 49-year building was in need of renovations, which included more effective use of space.
The library will have its official opening Feb. 27, but a soft opening will commence once work is finished, Pizzuto added. Once the Cole branch reopens, the Dove Library will be closed until June for renovations.
The Feb. 27 event is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes a ceremony, tours, live music, children’s activities and more, according to Community Relations Manager Jessica Bowen.
Out is a glass atrium, which blocked wireless Internet signals and replaced with stacks, new carpeting and easier access across the first floor. In addition, a teen center was constructed, the children’s section moved and expanded, new furniture along with other technological upgrades.
“At this point, and as we were making our way through decisions, we could see this building could serve another generation of Carlsbad residents,” Pizzuto said. “The idea is that library buildings will continue to serve whatever the learning methodology of the community is.”
The city council approved $11 million for upgrades to the facilities and work began on the Cole Library in September.
Continuing with the upgrades, a new streamline radio frequency identification conveyor system was installed for materials, which will reduce staff time organizing returns. Also, the center installed several automated checkout stalls, which Pizzuto said about 60 percent of customers use.
As part of the upgrades, the city focused on being up to date for local, state and federal codes including falling in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act. A new elevator was installed by the east entrance is up to standards.
“Because of the technology, a lightning-fast read can be done,” Pizzuto said of the automated system. “All of the sorting takes away a lot of sorting that had to be done. As a result of this, our staff can have more one-on-one interaction with the public.”
A big concern was the lack of space for teens and kids, Pizzuto said. Now, the renovations include a teen center with a study room, which can be broken into a pair of rooms.
Also, the children’s section has drastically increased its floor space along with additional computers.
“That’s the goal, flexible space,” Pizzuto said. “We really wanted to invite and welcome back our teens. They helped design it. We held a focus group of about 20 teens … and they gave us great input.”
Upstairs, the library will continue to house its genealogy catalog, one of the best in the country, and volumes of records, documents and books of the city’s history.
Back on the first floor, the Friends of the Library will have space for its own store. The volunteer group is a major player for library support and raises an average of $120,000 last year, which is donated to the library, in used books and materials.
Residents can also purchase books and other materials from the group through Amazon and Ebay, among other online retailers, Pizzuto added.
The community room also underwent upgrades, although Pizzuto said most of them were cosmetic. However, the area did add several features and remains one of the most popular spaces in the building hosting children’s and senior programs, concerts and other functions.
The electrical system was also replaced, a fire suppression system installed and natural light pumped into LED lights via Vista-based Solatube.
“It is outdoor, natural light that is being brought in through prisms,” Pizzuto said. “We have more electrical to meet the demand of people using their laptops.”